1000s stage fresh anti-austerity protests in Spain — video included
Apr 4, 2014
Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in cities across Spain in fresh protests against the government’s tough austerity measures.
On Thursday, demonstrations were held in the capital Madrid and 53 other cities by more than 100 organizations, including the country’s top trade unions.
Several thousand people, many waving red-and-white labor union flags, marched through the streets of Madrid, calling for an end to the austerity policies.
The protests came amid highly unpopular tax rises, public salary freezes and spending cuts, which the government has been implementing to reduce its public deficit under pressure from the European Union.
Spain has promised the EU it will lower the public deficit to 5.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year, 4.2 percent next year and 2.8 percent in 2016.
The demonstrations were held ahead of a major march planned in Brussels by the European Trade Union Confederation to demand an end to the austerity drive across the EU.
Official figures show Spain’s public debt increased to a new record high last year despite numerous budget-cutting measures implemented due to financial crisis.
According to data released by the Spanish central bank on March 14, the government’s debt reached 93.9 percent of the GDP in 2013. The figure showed a sharp rise compared to the previous record of 86 percent registered a year earlier.
Spain has been struggling to deal with its worst economic crisis since World War II, which has left millions of Spaniards jobless and unable to make a living.
A fifth of the country’s population is living under the poverty threshold as defined by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office. The dearth of jobs and the deepest austerity in more than 30 years have pushed average household income down 10 percent since 2008.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government has been sharply criticized over its austerity measures.
Spaniards have staged numerous protests against the government’s spending cuts, arguing that austerity measures have resulted in more job losses in recent years.